A Massachusetts librarian has rejected books sent to her school’s library by First Lady Melania Trump, claiming that the books, authored by Dr. Seuss, were racist.
“Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” Liz Phipps Soeiro, elementary school librarian at Cambridge Public Schools wrote in an open letter to Melania.
Phipps Soeiro specifically called out “The Cat in the Hat” as a work that perpetuates racism.
Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, ‘Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,’ reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters. Scholar Philip Nel’s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.
Phipps Soeiro apparently thought “The Cat in the Hat” was appropriate two years ago when she appears to have dressed up as The Cat and hosted a “green egg breakfast” in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday in 2015. A Twitter account which Phipps Soeiro runs, according to the bio, listed at the bottom of her screed aimed at the First Lady, tweeted photos of the breakfast on March 3, 2015.
In one of the photos is a woman who is dressed up like The Cat. The woman appears to be Phipps Soeiro, whose headshot is included her bio at the end of the letter to Melania.
The condescending letter takes aim at the First Lady’s decision to send her school a copy of “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” a book Melania explained was one she read to her son Barron “over and over again.”
“You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature,” Phipps Soeiro wrote. “As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.”
This isn’t the first time Phipps Soeiro has fired shots at Melania. In 2016, the same Twitter account she operates tweeted shade at Melania in September, 2016 over the speech she delivered at the Republican National Committee, which was very similar to Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008.
It’s also not the first time Phipps Soeiro used books to get political. The same account has tweeted photos of book displays with political themes which appear to be on display in the library she runs.
Check out this book display which features a photo of the Statue of Liberty imposed over a raised fist posted the day before President Trump was elected last November.